The sage advice I once received as an intern: “Always have a
pen and paper with you.” This bid me well, and I trust it’ll do
the same for you. You never know when you’ll need to write
something down. And taking notes on your phone won’t always
be appropriate. Pen and paper. Don’t forget it.
Identify a few skills or experiences you’d like to add to your
résumé at the end of your internship. Once you’ve done that, go
find the opportunities that match. Express interest to your
manager in learning particular software or gaining some
exposure to a certain area of the company. If you’re unsure of
exactly which skills to focus on, take a look at what you believe
to be your “ideal” job description post-graduation.
If you’re anything like me, it’s troublesome to remember what I
ate yesterday let alone the work I completed 6-months ago.
Combat this by keeping a list of the projects you’re currently
working on, detailing information about the tasks you’ve
completed and the tools you’ve utilized. Then… when it’s time
to prepare for the fall career fair, all that’s left to touch up your
résumé completion is selecting which experiences you’d like to
What’s the quickest way for you to show a lack of ambition at
work? Any guesses? It’s sitting at your desk! Don’t wait for your
boss or a coworker to put work on your desk. Be proactive and
start asking questions. If your manager and fellow employees
don’t have anything to give you, go find the training section of
your company’s intranet. And then explore! You don’t want to
be the intern who lacks drive and motivation…do you?
In one of my summer internships, I made it a point to wake up
an hour early every Friday morning, so that I could pick up
doughnuts for a meeting I didn’t even attend. Why?
Because when it came down to selecting an intern for a high-
level project, I was the first intern the managers thought of. So,
while fetching coffee, filing papers and making photocopies will
not build your résumé it can build up your reputation with
management. Make yourself visible. Your volunteered coffee
runs might just deem you worthy of a mention.
Now, the actual value of a solid mentor is beyond quantification.
Do yourself the favor of finding at least one person during the
duration of your internship that you can go to for advice and
support. A common mistake is to think that this person has to be
an executive. This is untrue. First and foremost, keep an eye out
for the shakers and movers in a company. Second, look to those
employees who have the job you’d like when you graduate. No
one like that? Look for others who graduated with the degree
you’re earning or worked in your ideal industry. I don’t care what.
Just find that person…or…those people.
It might be company policy that you’re scheduled for a formal
appraisal process or performance management review with
your manager. I suggest taking this a step farther. Ask co-
workers, other managers, and anyone else you may have
worked with for feedback on your performance. It’s common
that they’ll have feedback for you but wouldn’t have offered it
otherwise. Remember: closed mouths don’t get fed.
Have you ever opened another person’s partially done work
with no clue where to begin? Me too. Even when completing
“small” project tasks, think about how what you’re doing now
may affect something when you’re back at school. Often, your
fellow employees will need to reference something you’ve done,
so it’s important to document exactly what you did. For
example, if you’re making an excel spreadsheet take the time to
add a comment explaining the formulas you used. You’ll be
appreciated long after you’ve gone.
It’s a small world. Never forget that. You just don’t know when you may work
with a co-worker again. Leave the channels of communication open. This is
especially important to those of you entering a niche field. Aside from adding
co-workers on LinkedIn, send them an email with your contact information
and a short thank you for any guidance and support they provided you the
last few months.
If someone went out of their way to help you or they have the power to hire
you then give them a handwritten ‘Thank You’ card. A display of
appreciation can go along way, and it adds another layer of context to the
relationship you have with your employer. Focus on being the intern who
went above and beyond… not the one who is forgotten.
Admittedly, I stole this from my business hero, Gary
Vaynerchuk, but I trust he’d like my use. No matter what
you do, no matter where you go… always be hustling.
Work your ass off. Remember that it’s okay to make
mistakes and to ask questions. Just never make the same
mistake or ask the same question twice.